Barovia Goes to the Birds: Curse of Strahd Session #26
By MARK WILSON
DM: A Friend
(Me) Ahk-wa – Female Aarakocra Ranger
Aial – Female Aarakocra Druid
Lhandroval – Male Aarakocra Sorcerer
Gwaihir – Male Aarakocra Bard
System, Setting, Adventure: D&D 5e, Barovia/Ravenloft, Curse of Strahd
Session #26: “Strahdegy”
PC Level: 10
Having left the Amber Temple, we plot our last steps to confront the devil Strahd…
On our way to the winery, we get an invitation from a wolf to Strahd’s wedding to the previously-lost Ireena (which follows her “funeral” to make her undead). We decide to either crash the wedding or confront Strahd before it happens.
Sorry for the Strahd puns. It’s too good not to make liberal use of.
Anyway, the first hour of the session was literally just a strategy session. We headed back to the winery where we found Mordenkainen! I know he ended up being our “prophesied ally” and all, but man, having a wizard with 9th level spells was not something I was expecting. But cool.
So the next portion of the plan involved using our haunted mirror (we have one, apparently), to summon an Assassin (!), which we send to kill Strahd’s castle-keeper servant, Rahadin. We pair this with an Animal Messenger from Mordenkainen (by way of Aial’s spell, I believe), calling him to battle at the falls where they previously fought. We want to lure him out, and use the dead servant as an instigator.
Before bed, Ismark – the somewhat-incompetent brother of Ireena – shows up and is livid that we lost his sister. We promise to get her back, and contemplate knocking him out to get him to shut up. Thankfully, it doesn’t come to that.
Awkward With Ahk-wa, Vol…3 or 4?
While the mirror assassin was being summoned, Ahk-wa pulled aside Lhando so that he wouldn’t try to confiscate the power for himself. However, she also talks to him about his newfound plans to rule Barovia (as a result of his personality change in the Amber Temple). Ahk-wa is on board with this plan, and muses that if the siblings create a power vacuum, who better to fill it? She’ll gladly help her brother ascend to new ruler.
Further, with his new undead features, she suspects that he might have a hard time existing outside of Barovia, but that the people here are used to such horrors.
Rahadin vs. Assassin
We RP’d the fight in Ravenloft Castle, with Gwaihir rolling for the Assassin. It was a surprisingly harrowing fight. Rahadin had the better base stats, but the assassin was able to get a surprise round and a crit, which made the difference. Rahadin dies, and hopefully lends weight to our message from Mordenkainen (which mentions the assassination).
We meet at the falls the next morning and hide, while Mordenkainen acts as the bait. Strahd approaches with Ireena on his Nightmare horse, and a retinue of vampire spawn and wolves. Further off, some gargoyles approach as well.
Strahd attempts to engage Mordenkainen in conversation, but we cut this off by attacking. Strahd is unsurprised but still at a disadvantage due to our plan.
Using Lhando’s Staff of Power, we cast Wall of Force around Strahd, Ireena and the horse. Separately, Gwaihir approaches them with the Sun Sword. Since sunlight goes through Wall of Force, it begins to harm Strahd. Meanwhile, a combo of Lhando and Mordenkainen keep Strahd in the Wall by Counterspelling his attempts to get out.
Meanwhile, the others deal with the minions. Aial uses her Moonbeam to keep the spawn from healing, and Ahk-wa runs crowd control with a dizzying combo of Hasted attacks and Action Surge attacks.
As we ended the session, the gargoyles had arrived but the others were largely dispatched and Strahd was still trapped inside the Wall…
It was a good plan, including sending the assassin as bait to get Strahd to leave his castle. I can’t take credit for it, but it worked shockingly well. Strahd isn’t dead, but we’ve barely taken damage. The end is near.
Wall of Force is a bit of a gimmick spell, and the internet is alive with threads decrying that it’s broken. I’m not so sure, but this likely isn’t the best case study to test it. Mordenkainen provided high-level Counterspells, which negated almost any trickery Strahd could attempt from within the Wall. The fact that the sword’s light can pass through is also hyper-specific to this encounter and enemy type. The deck was stacked pretty hard against Strahd, given that we gathered all the weapons and allies that we did.
The Rahadin fight was very dramatic, though, so the session wasn’t without some dramatic tension. It just ironically didn’t come from the more obvious source.
While I shouldn’t take a victory lap before he’s actually dead, we’re doing very well, and I see it as a reward for a campaign well-navigated (with some luck, granted).
The death of Strahd (we hope), and aftermath in Barovia. Lhando may have some aspirations to Strahd’s kingdom, and Aial has unfinished business at the abbey and possibly with her boyfriend at the winery.